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Findings from around the Internet.

 

“thank God for the asshole that Kanye has become”

February 16, 2015

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I began to imagine the faces of those everyday white supremacists, so complacent and comfortable in their racial tyranny over the South, if they could have seen Kanye preparing to take the stage at the Grammys. Specifically, I imagined the faces of the editorial team of the Memphis Evening Scimitar. On June 4 1892, they wrote that:

“The chief cause of trouble between the races in the South is the Negro’s lack of manners. In the state of slavery he learned politeness from association with white people, who took pain to teach him. Since the emancipation came and the tie of mutual interest and regard between master and servant was broken, the Negro has drifted away into a state which is neither freedom nor bondage…he has taken up the idea that boorish insolence is independence, and the exercise of a decent degree of breeding toward white people is identical with servile submission….there are many Negroes who use every opportunity to make themselves offensive, particularly when they think it can be done with impunity.” (My italics.)

As I read this I thought of Kanye mounting those steps, I thought of these racists watching him, and as I sat at my kitchen table I allowed myself a quietly maniacal chuckle.  After all, if these editors could have created an algorithm that would have produced their worst nightmare, then it is pretty safe to say that it would have produced someone like Kanye West. (In fact, in the quoted paragraph above, they virtually prophesied his emergence.) Kanye does not even have the good grace to be humble about his talents. He lacks manners; he is frequently impolite; he is rude, boorish, offensive, intemperate, obstreperous and vulgar. And, as I read these words from 1892, I absolutely loved him for it.  Kanye is critically acclaimed, he is independently wealthy, he has the ear of millions whenever he opens that mouth of his, that awful goddamn mouth – in short, he is everything that the slavers feared the day they reluctantly unlocked that final yoke.

Read More | “God Bless Kanye West, and God Bless Ida B. Wells” | Musa Okwonga | Okwonga.com

 

“While the capitalists are winning every battle between the two classes, they are nonetheless losing the war.”

January 15, 2015

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Insofar as Thatcher spoke for the capitalist class, there is indeed no alternative: capitalism today cannot survive in the cramped confines of the nation state. However, there is an aspect of her declaration that also applies to the modern social forces of production created by capitalism. These social forces have never been national and have always compelled capital to take increasingly global forms.

How much SYRIZA simply reflects the truth as it appears within the logic of the bourgeois simpleton remains to be seen. But even accepting this still does not escape the fact that the social forces of production have today become entirely incompatible with the nation state and national politics. Which is to say, SYRIZA’s politics may ultimately turn out to be merely a progressive variant of neoliberalism — and this may just be a final expression of bourgeois politics, rather than a true anti-politics — but in any case politics is dead.

Since the 1980s the Left has pursued a strategy that not only rejects Thatcher’s declaration, but refuses to recognize the global character of production. In one effort after another the Left has sought to overthrow neoliberalism but always in favor of a return to national state management of the economy. The reason for this is quite understandable: neoliberalism has resulted in globalization of production at the expense of the working class. But this reasoning is not defensible, since globalization of the production process has continued to develop despite numerous efforts to prevent it by the Left.

Globalization is not a policy of the capitalists, it is a process of formation of a single world market that is imposed on both worker and capitalist alike by development of the productive forces bound up with capital. Properly understood, neoliberalism is a policy where by the costs of this irresistable globalization is imposed on the working class by the capitalists.

While nothing can prevent globalization of production, there is nothing that states this globalization need take a neoliberal form. Globalization takes a neoliberal form because, even as globalization undercuts the nation state, the Left insists on relying on the nation state to counter neoliberalism. The very institution the Left relies on to fight the neoliberal impact of globalization is the one most fatally compromised by globalization itself.

Read More | “The historical context of Greece’s elections” | Jehu | The Real Movement

 

“they make their way down the wide, bleached sidewalks, followed at a distance by an unmarked police car”

January 6, 2015

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The New Black Panther Party has made news in the past couple of years for putting a bounty on the head of George Zimmerman and intimidating voters in Philadelphia, where they canvassed for Obama and one member allegedly brandished a nightstick and shouted, “You are about to be ruled by a black man, cracker!” (The Department of Justice dropped the case.) Recently, the group has been pilloried—mostly on Fox News—as outside agitators in Ferguson. Since Darren Wilson, the cop who shot Michael Brown, escaped indictment, two New Black Panthers in Ferguson have been brought to court on gun charges, though right-wing news outlets claim the men were actually planning to blow up the Gateway Arch and murder the Ferguson police chief. The surviving leadership of the original Black Panther Party has also repudiated the movement for inflammatory and anti-Semitic rhetoric. Bobby Seale, a founder, speculated to me that this new incarnation of his group is a front organization funded by right-wing money, “maybe by the Koch Brothers.” But despite the New Black Panther Party’s dismal reputation, in Dallas its members are, at least, the most thoughtful and professional revolutionaries around. They have a platform, an ideology, work as barbers and electricians, and are serious about their politics and the importance of being armed. “What you see in the media relates to them on a national level, but their organization is a lot different here on a local level,” Goodson tells me. Darren X says that his Party is trying to move away from the inflammatory rhetoric of its leadership and “transition from black power to all power to all the people.”

Read more | “The Revolutionary Gun Clubs Patrolling the Black Neighborhoods of Dallas” | Aaron Lake Smith | Vice

 

“The police weren’t “showing restraint,” there were simply too many of us to stop.”

December 12, 2014

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As the cell door opens, 30 detainees erupt in applause.

“Where’d they get you?” one cellmate asks.

“Downtown,” I reply. “Is there any actual crime in NYC today?”

Protester 1: “Nope, just us professional agitators.”

Protester 2: “Hoodlums.”

Protesters 3: “Dudes that think that brother didn’t deserve to die, and that cop ain’t deserve to walk.”

Shortly after I’m processed, a female protester follows, passing our cell en route to hers, we erupt in cheers and she salutes us.

Minutes later a second woman passes but does not acknowledge our cheers. Louder we chant and still she avoids eye contact. She is visibly uncomfortable. And then we realize…

Protester 1: “She has no idea we’re with her protesting too, she just sees 30 dudes in a holding cell cheering at her.”

Protester 2: “She thought we were cat calling her!”

Protester 3: “Probably talkin to the other women now like ‘even in here these niggas can’t help themselves.’”

(We all laugh.)

Protester 4: “Put your fists up instead.”

As a group we decide: To stand, fists up, chanting “No Justice, No Peace!” in solidarity with all future female detainees.

Read More | “NYPD ‘Restraint’ and the Mass Detention of Peaceful #EricGarner Protesters” | Andrew J Padilla | Latino Rebels

 

“build up rebel muscles for the harder and harder fight ahead”

December 12, 2014

BerkeleyWith places like UC Berkeley costing tens of thousands per year, many students now come from sheltered and/or upper-class backgrounds, whether they are white or people of color. They are gaining degrees within an institution that is now structured to manufacture the next generation of wealthy and powerful elites, whether in business or the nonprofit industrial complex. So you might, as a student, not have been exposed to what it means to have your kids be target practice for every cop who walks by, simply because they are black or brown. You might not get how it feels to be evicted from your home, made homeless, made criminal. It might feel scary, challenging, or discomforting to now be exposed to ideas, people, and varied life experiences and upbringings that are far from your own underlying assumptions and lived experienced. That’s OK.

You can walk through and beyond those assumptions; you can choose solidarity not charity, to be on the side of the dispossessed, as accomplices and co-conspirators in shaping an egalitarian and self-organized society. As a student who has already chosen to step into the street, despite the odds of that happening given the reactionary state of “higher” education, you can choose to become a rebel who thinks and acts for themselves, collectively with others — and stay one, even if it takes you a while to work through your prickly feelings.

What’s not OK is what students and others are doing with their prickly feelings on the streets to their purported fellow protesters.

It is not OK to take out your own personal limits on others who are trying, like you, to create a better form of social organization, especially when those others are often people who are the precise targets of policing because of skin color and/or class and gender, politics and/or tactics — or whatever.

So rather than yelling “peaceful protest” and waving fingers at people who are doing things that discomfort you — tactically and politically — see your discomfort as your own growing pains, as a wake-up call, as all of us becoming different and better people through the many beautiful, varied, powerful acts of making social change toward a better world as we discomfort ourselves and society.

For example, several nights ago, right in front of the Berkeley police station and lines of riot police, a black person tossed a bit of garbage in the direction of the cops. A white person who looked visibly shaken by that act quickly screamed at the top of their voice, while gesturing frantically toward the black person, “Provocateur! Stop them!” and so on, whipping many other people up to do the same thing. Fortunately, the black person wasn’t arrested, and two white people stood behind the person who was loudly outing them. Also fortunately, the white person realized just as quickly that they were putting the black person in profound danger. “I was feeling upset,” the white person said. “But I should have walked away for a minute or two instead of yelling. I won’t do that again.”

A lack of solidarity can also be traced to disagreements about strategic symbols, strategic choices, and/or forms of organization, and wanting to see things go a certain way. Perhaps this is not the kindest way to put it, but such an outlook, at heart, relies on notions of control: protesters wanting things to go their own way — a singular way that fits with what they think is the best thing to do. That translates into a sentiment: “we” need to do something [fill in a single tactic or strategy] that “people” can understand.

Yet as should be apparent from all the rainbow of strategies, tactics, protests, and direct actions as well as prefigurative politics flowering across the United States, different direct actions and tactics speak to different people. That’s precisely why this gorgeous (albeit always messy) movement is staying so strong, growing so much. Indeed, it is dynamic because people have been innovating tactics, sharing them across the continent via social medias, and then borrowing them for their cities and towns, to further innovate. Some people are moved by die-ins in malls; others by trains or freeways or bridges being blocked, or kids walking out of their schools in defiance of their teachers; others are touched by seeing a new luxury restaurant’s windows smashed, knowing that such places mean more policing, criminalization, and evictions of people of color and the poor; still others are moved by graffiti on the side of police cars, because it signals that the police aren’t thoroughly in control as an invading army; and on and on. Mostly, many are simply moved by the fact — and therefore are starting to join enthusiastically in the protest, too — that millions of feet are pounding many miles of pavement night after night after night against killer cops and white supremacy.

We haven’t stopped, though the police are working overtime to divert and confound us.

Read More | “Solidarity, as Weapon & Practice, versus Killer Cops & White Supremacy” | Cindy Milstein | Outside the Circle